My cats have taste
. Of the musical variety. Kesia, the older, reserved and elegant grey tabby has a fondness for shaking her tailfeather to drum & bass and UK garage, while Zuleika, the sprightly, flighty whitesox youngster prefers a monotonous house beat, or hip hop. Specifically, Timbaland-produced hip hop. No kidding! I was playing Jay-Z's latest album, and she would flounce away when Swizz Beats or DJ Premier were in the chair, before coming bounding back in for the Timma-D cuts. She particularly likes the awesomely drawn-out reverse groove of "Come And Get Me", and I can't fault her reasoning.
And I'm wondering: what makes my cats like/dislike some of my music? My automatic assumption is that they get off on the rhythm and the bass frequencies, which probably seem radically different to them than they do to my ears. But is their appreciation purely physical? I sort of sympathise with the idea, because increasingly that's how I listen to music. I listen for the rhythm first, then for the melodies, harmonies and production details, and way way down the list of things I might consider whether this song seems inherently "better" to me than another due to some larger, unexplained forces at work. Example: I was listening to Tori Amos's "To Venus And Back" album today, and all I could think of the whole time was the bizarre profusion of rhythmic detail (like Talking Heads on overdrive) and the weird, almost eightiesish blur between the "real" and "synthetic" production-wise, making music that was neither organic, nor in any way robotic. Which is a strange way of thinking, because Tori fans are famous for their almost unhealthy connection with Tori's music; with her, through that music. Production would seem to be irrelevant, subsumed by something greater.
So I'm trying to convince myself that this breakdown of the ways in which I enjoy music is ultimately a good thing, but there's still something grand in the dangerous, misguided idea that a song could be "inherently great" - a philosophical purity. The other way suggests that one day we could in fact construct our own songs from a wizard program fed with our various likes and dislikes. Convenient? Yes. But a nice idea, really?